Thursday, December 13, 2012

A Review of Hell - Step into The Devil's Garden

Okay readers, we're going straight to hell today.  No seriously, in this season of giving, blessed peace, and remembering why we celebrate, I've the pleasure to take you on a journey to hell - at least a hell on this earth.

Today, I'm bringing you a review of Brady Christianson's novel The Devil's Garden, a story of death and destruction with plenty of tongue-in-cheek humor and sharp wit.  I already know of several acquaintences who will enjoy this book immensely.  So here's my gift to you this season - Merry Christmas!

Book Summary:
A Marine’s past is never far behind him, but sometimes it’s a lot closer than he thinks . . .

After years of enjoying the soft, quiet, civilian, family life, former Recon Marine Brandon Colson still has a large price on his head…only his family doesn’t know it. That is, until a heavily armed squad of terrorists breaks into his house and tries to kill him and his family.

After swiftly dispatching the would-be assassins, Colson realizes the ghosts from his past have somehow managed to come back to haunt him. His worst nightmare has come true. His identity—a secret until now—has been mysteriously compromised. Something he did years ago, while on a recon mission during his tour of service, has kept anger burning in the hearts of powerful Arab adversaries. And the men who attacked his house are simply an omen of what is to come.

With his family in hiding, Colson and local detective Sam Collier set out to locate and neutralize the remainder of the terrorist cell. It’s a race against time, and the plot they uncover along the way defies all expectation.

Their fates in the balance until the last second, the two men must fight for their lives as they navigate a trail littered with bloodshed and revenge that leads straight to hell on earth: The Devil’s Garden.

My Review:
I have to admit, when first starting this book I wasn't sure what to expect.  It is a little confusing and slow to make sense, but once it really gets started it is a rocket blast forward to the finish line.

We first meet Detective Sam Collier as he unfolds his six-foot-ten frame from his car and heads into the station at four in the morning.  Inside he'll find his strangest and most unsettling interrogation suspect of his entire career.

Suspect Brandon Colson claims to have been born on November 10, 1775 at Tun Tavern in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  He also claims to have special powers and an evil sword to explain why there are four dead men in his house (one decapitated), and why he tore through security at the small airport to shoot down the remaining two men during takeoff in a twin-engine turboprop - with only a 9 millimeter and a 12-gauge shotgun.

Brandon proceeds to make verbal mincemeat of his interrogators, especially the staff psychologist.  I laughed so hard during this section of the proceedings until the psychologist tucks tail and runs from the interrogation room.  After interrogations of Brandon, his wife, and each of his three daughters (the youngest's observations are quite funny), Brandon's saving grace comes in the form of Homeland Security, Deputy Director Dain - or as Brandon refers to his former Marine partner, Day One.  Brandon and his family are released to Dain.

And that's where the storyline begins to takeoff.

Brandon's past has caught up with him.  A band of Muslim extremists have placed a price on Brandon's head from a long-ago incident in the Philippines, which is gradually brought into the picture to assist us in understanding the 'why'.  Approximately forty Palestinian hit-men have illegally entered the country with one primary purpose - kill Brandon Colson.

Now Brandon, with the help of Detective Sam, must find each of the targets and wipe them out in return so they cannot report back the success or failure of their mission - and all to protect his family and those involved.

Brandon's smart-mouthed repartee is the real winner in this novel.  The majority of the novel consists of dialogue and some action, with very little internalization driving the story - and in this case, it works very well because of the dry wit and humor referenced.  You HAVE to have a semblence of a sense of humor to really appreciate how Brandon verbally cold-cocks everyone around him.  If you don't, you will just be incensed and walk away like the psychologist character.

Even though Brandon, his past actions and how they play into the present actions, is the primary focus of the story, Sam is our true protagonist.  We see him progress from a 'by the book' detective to a man willing to put everything on the line and do whatever is necessary to save his loved ones and those he respects from harm.  Plus his size and 'grazing' habits make for some interesting jabs.

You'll have to read the book to find out why.

As I said, the beginning was confusing and a bit hard to follow at times, though I doubt the Marines and retired Marines in the audience will have the difficulty I had in this regard.  Also, in the few scenes that did not involve constant dialogue, the writing was very passive and I found myself mentally editing out the unnecessary words to make it more action oriented.  Again, however, this is probably just because I'm also a writer and used to editing, while the average reader probably wouldn't have a problem with the extra words and passive voice.

One word of caution - if you do not like action involving violence and blood-letting then don't pick up this book.  Personally, I had no problems with this because the reasoning was justified.  But there are a few scenes that are quite gory in the telling, though it does not dwell on and draw out these actions to the point of being gratiutous.  This is where we get a chance to visit the story's 'hell'.

And for those of you concerned about the Muslim religious connotations, the author makes a VERY clear distinction between those who are peaceful Muslims and the extremists - and weaves this case throughout without being preachy.

Even with the few issues I had, I still enjoyed The Devil's Garden very much and was surprised at how the irreverant humor drove it forward and kept me laughing - and reading.  The climactic scene was exciting and heart-pounding while maintaining a sense of humor even amidst death and destruction.  If your penchant leans toward the thriller genre, you will find this a fun addition to your reading library.

So on that note, I think it's time for me to go and graze a little.

Brady Christianson's Bio:
Brady Christianson is a former United States Marine Corps Recon Marine whose military service and Christian faith has shaped his writing.  Visit his blog at

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Price: $14.95
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Two Harbors Press
ISBN: 9781938690167
Pages: 391
Release: November 11, 2012

Amazon buy link ($14.95): paperback buy link ($14.95):


  1. D A, glad you enjoyed Brady's thriller. Thanks for the review!

    P.S. Congratulations on the release of your own book. Very exciting!

    1. I really loved the character of Brandon and then watching Sam "grow". It was a hoot!

      And thank you for the congratulations! It's been a long time coming.